Measles outbreak in southern Ireland grows

Seventeen new case of measles have been reported during the last six days in an outbreak in southern Ireland.

The total number of confirmed cases in West Cork, Ireland, stands at 42. Public health officials are urging parents to make certain their children are fully protected against the highly infectious illness, according to

"At the moment, the best way to ensure safety is to ensure that babies are not exposed to older children who may not be vaccinated and who are incubating the disease," Dr. Fiona Ryan, a consultant in public health medicine, said, reports. "Some cases have unvaccinated brothers and sisters, so they are very likely to become infected. Unfortunately the symptoms are very non-specific before they get the rash."

Two doses of the MMR vaccine are recommended, with the first dose to be given at 12 months of age and the second between the ages of four and five.

Children or teenagers who have not received both doses of the vaccine can have it administered by a general practitioner free of charge. Those affected in the outbreak have mainly been teenagers, but children under the age of 12 months are considered especially at risk.

"We have a worry that it will spread to other children," Ryan said, according to "We are expecting more cases.

"In West Cork, we have quite a number of children that haven't been vaccinated. There are so many unvaccinated that you are getting a lot of spread. It's a very, very infectious disease."

The nationwide MMR vaccination rate in Ireland for children aged 24 months is 92 percent, but in West Cork 14 percent of children at that age remain unvaccinated.